California Literary Review

Horror

Book Review: Those Across the River by Christopher Buehlman

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October 4th, 2011

The revealed mystery of “those across the river,” how they came to be and what they want, is a delightfully genre-bending juxtaposition of supernatural horror and gothic drama. Buehlman blends these surprising elements in a novel that is simultaneously poetically spare and defiantly eclectic.

True Blood Recap: Season 4 Bites Deep (But Doesn’t Suck)

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September 12th, 2011

For those who have not been scared off by now, I think we could all use a stiff drink before tuning in next summer for Season 5. Which I know I will. Season 4 had a few too many stops, starts, and jerky turns, but True Blood seized its bloodthirsty mojo back at the finish line.

The Weekly Listicle: There Goes The Neighborhood

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August 19th, 2011

Forget good fences, and forget good neighbors. Characters in movies and television are far more compelling when not acting the least bit neighborly.

A Brief Apology To Final Destination 5

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August 17th, 2011

My recent review awarded Final Destination a moderate “star” rating – for the benefit of the general public, who at the most basic level may have no interest in the concept – but hopefully the article (as well as this one) makes it clear how much fun I had watching it. As with books, food, and other pleasures, there is a big difference between movies that are no good for you, and ones that are simply no good. Fortunately, a lot of you out there will enjoy this as one of the former.

Best And Worst Movies Of 2011, Part 1

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July 14th, 2011

We the critics of the Fourth Wall – Julia Rhodes, Brett Davinger, and myself – devote this week to the discussion of our favorite (and least favorite) films released in 2011 so far. After careful consideration, each of us has selected a “Top 3″ and “Bottom 3″ for the year’s first half. Read along and see how our love and hate stack up against your own.

In Case You Missed… Christopher Smith’s Black Death

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June 29th, 2011

Most movies like Black Death exploit the historical context to take shots at organized religion with impunity. A select few try to balance the mistakes of the early church with the importance of faith over dogma – an approach that Season Of The Witch admittedly tried, but got lost too far up its own butt to realize. Black Death tends toward the latter type of story, but pushes its acid satire into fairly new territory.

Bloody Sexy Things: Adapting Clive Barker

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June 28th, 2011

Clive Barker has lent his eyes and hands to virtually every medium, from page to the screen to the stage to the canvas to the console. However, film fans know him particularly as a horror master. There is so much undermined material for gifted fantasy filmmakers that perhaps we could dispense with further Candyman sequels and retire the Hellraiser juggernaut with contented hearts, and enjoy a Clive Barker renaissance clad in all new colors.

Day Late, Dollar Short, Solid Gold: “Dear Twilight…”

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June 8th, 2011

Somewhere in the Twilight cutting room, did the thought never stir that they could drag untold ranks of non-Twilight initiates into the theaters merely by cutting fan reactions into the regular trailers? I was working as a movie usher when New Moon came out, and I had grown people stepping out of ticket lines with money outstretched, offering outrageous sums of cash to buy my promotional New Moon t-shirt off my back. And believe me, it was not an excuse to peek at my trout belly. This is for real, people! Star Wars and Harry Potter premieres have nothing on this.

I Am NOT An Animal! (But I Play One In The Movies)

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May 27th, 2011

Putting animal antics into movies is a perennially popular way to cobble up a goofball family comedy on short notice. This is a distinctly separate practice than merely animating creatures from scratch, which has produced its own wonderful results in the past. Nowadays, however, the line between the two is blurring at an alarming rate, so much so that it scarcely seems worth the trouble of getting real animals to be in live-action movies at all. The increasing intrusion of computer generated animal behavior is really beginning to mar the magic.

Insecurity Deposits: Catching Up With Hammer’s The Resident

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May 16th, 2011

The Resident is nicely paced, moodily presented, eerily scored and based upon a very creepy idea. As a rather by-the-book thriller, it satisfies on many levels. If the characters are nothing new, at least the structure has some less familiar kinks. By revealing Max’s true nature early on (to the audience, and not to Juliet), the movie switches abruptly from a creepy mystery to a dread-heavy thriller. Instead of discovering the danger along with Juliet, viewers are given a little head start, so that they are already yelling, “Get out of there!” just as Juliet is starting to feel at home.

Lies, LIES! Never Trust Nothing, Especially A “Last” Sequel

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May 12th, 2011

After going to the trouble of naming the fourth installment of the series THE Final Destination, the good folks at New Line Cinema and Zide/Perry Productions have decided that they cannot part with their fatalistic techno-geist kill parade after all. Then again, if they can still quadruple a $40 million dollar budget at the box […]

The Weekly Listicle: Three Rings Of Circus Movie Mayhem!

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April 22nd, 2011

The circus is a complicated enterprise, and its symbolic value in storytelling has many faces. It may tell of freedom and the charm of living as a nomad and artist. It may speak to the weariness of the road, and the ability of a lifestyle to trap those who do not know how to break free. It may celebrate the solidarity of those cast out from society. Or in the end, it may simply deal with the hideous antics of clowns. In any form, the circus plays upon the most fundamental feelings of wonder and fear, and makes children of us all once again.

“Let Me In!” Cries A Voice In The Night

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January 11th, 2011

A certain writer for the California Literary Review has thoughtfully distilled a whole year of reviews, reactions, and reflections into two comprehensive and well-researched essays entitled “The 10 Best Movies of 2010″ and “The 10 Worst Movies of 2010.” Having been too shiftless to organize a retrospective list of my own, I take grave exception. One of the most entertaining movies of the year failed to rouse sufficient praise or sufficient scorn in his heart to make either list.

The Weekly Listicle: Parties For A New Year

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December 31st, 2010

In the spirit of celebration, we take a moment to remember some of our favorite movie parties. In some cases the party itself is one the audience might very much like to attend. In others it is a complete catastrophe, but still very entertaining to watch. So strap on your party hat and join me (Dan Fields) and William Bibbiani around the punch bowl.

The Weekly Listicle: Worlds Of Fancy And Other Wondrous Places

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November 19th, 2010

A cleverly rendered fantasy world has the power to make us believe astounding things, and to transport us to places we may never have imagined ourselves. In the history of film there have been countless attempts to take real-world places and performers outside the realm of what has been seen before, and into far-off lands where the amazing, the terrifying, and the marvelous lurk around every corner.

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